With the knowledge that it would be a couple of weeks before our refrigerator was ready for installation, it was time to head for our intended September destination: Grand Marais, a 95 miles drive west of Marquette. Grand Marais is the little town on the shore of Lake Superior that sucked us in so much last year that we kept extending our stay, ending up there for 19 days. But before we made the Saturday afternoon ride, we left the RV at the Ojibwa Casino and drove Loki back into town for another Downtown Marquette Farmers market.
This week we had perfect weather, which led to a big turnout. A steady stream of buyers that were willing to explore and linger in the temperate, sunny, and festive outdoor atmosphere began even before the official 9 am start time. We ended with our best result ever, with the very low $10 table fee pushing our net profit over our previous top result at the Beachcomber Bazaar on Whidbey Island by a bit.
We packed up, restocked our food supply (options for doing this in Grand Marais are very limited and pricey,) reconnected Loki to the tow rig at the casino, and headed to our home for the next few weeks: Woodland County Park. Having watched the place empty out after Labor Day weekend last year, we were surprised at how full this first come, first serve park was upon our late afternoon arrival. The excellent weekend weather had the part time RVers out in droves and the seasonal visitors extending their stays. The lake view spots on the front row were all full, but we found an excellent large back in spot with plenty of tree cover in the rear.
Woodland Park’s RV campsites are 50 amp electric and water, with a nearby dump station and well maintained bath house and laundry facilities. Lake front spots are $30 a night, all others are $27. We planned to keep an eye out for open front row option once the weekend crowd thinned out, but given what a nice spot we lucked into in the nearly full park, we were willing to wait for a really good one.
We spent the week reacquainting ourselves with Grand Marais, which, frankly, does not take long given the small size of the place (after all, there are no stop lights and a grand total of three restaurants and one food truck.) This included participation in the very informal Thursday evening market. We worried that over the course of a year this pop up event might run afoul of state or county regulations and either fade away our start requiring paperwork and table fees. But no, it’s just like last year: all are welcome, set up wherever there is an open space on near the sidewalk, and no vendor charges.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s small in both number of vendors and potential buyers, but at only two hours long the time investment makes our consistent, if modest profit there worth it, particularly since we are the only jeweler and the locals are so welcoming. The only notable change from last year is that the actual start and end times have shifted forward nearly an hour, no matter what the legacy advertising says. Next week we will know to set up a lot earlier.
Over our first four days we passed on several lake front spots that opened up; either they were narrow, had poor views, or were too close to the bathhouse and associated foot traffic. On the fifth morning, however, I drove the tracker around the front row with our reservation tag in hand and discovered an excellent recently emptied option: wide, long, level, with an excellent view of Lake Superior out the front window, and plenty of grass and trees along the back. I parked Loki there and hung the tag to claim it, and we made a quick job of packing up and moving before I notified the office of our site shift and paid the additional $3 a day.
Late in the week I called Hilltop RV for an update on the shipping time frame, and received the unfortunate news that the supplier did not have the fridge in stock, and was waiting on a shipment from the factory. Their best guess was that we would not receive the unit until the first week of October. We had not planned on staying in the UP that long, but it doesn’t look like we have much of a choice. We resigned ourselves to it, thankful that we have a nice and reasonably affordable place to stay, and hopeful that the weather will not turn too cold. With this new timeline established, we worked out a plan for how we would maximize our market participation through the rest of September. More on that next post.
Last thing: the Woodland has “free WiFi” though in typical RV park fashion, it is rarely usable. Our relatively new unlimited WiFi plan with Verizon, however, allowed us to keep track of those facing destructive weather in the south, and we were relieved that Hurricane Irma, for all of its devastation, did not cause significant damage for friends and family throughout Florida. Since then we have watched Jose wander around the Atlantic and are now seeing Maria reek havoc across the Caribbean. Stay safe, fam.